New York Sweeps Season Series Versus T’Wolves, 118–114
Or, The Kyle O’Quinn Game
Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 79 points on a spectacular glimpse into the future of the NBA on Wednesday night. The two young big men scored from all angles on the floor and wowed a scarce Minnesota crowd.
On Friday night (shouts to Robert Randolph Family Band), the two seven-footers did not exactly put on the kind of show from two nights ago.
Instead, it was Role Players’ Night at Madison Square Garden, starring Kyle O’Quinn, Sasha Vujacic, Lance Thomas, among others. The Knicks provided balanced scoring throughout the game and put up a season-high 118 points. All five starters (Lee, Noah were absent) scored double digits.
In the first half, Vujacic caught fire, of sorts, and found open looks to connect from deep. O’Quinn was resourceful throughout the night, converting point-blank range layups to solidify arguably his best game thus far wearing orange and blue.
Thomas made his return after missing the previous nine consecutive games. He played only three minutes in the first half during the bench stretch and scored a three, his only bucket.
Here’s how the Knicks took down the Timberwolves:
Raiders of the Three-Point Arc
New York had the range on Friday night, connecting from triple a dozen times, 38.7 percent overall.
Many of the good looks the ‘Bockers found from long range were created by some nice dishin’ and swishin’ from the entire team. The Knicks looked generous, finding it easy to share the ball and swing it to the open man. The beneficiaries of these passes included Carmelo Anthony, Vujacic, and Holiday. New York finished with 26 assists as five different players scored from deep.
Hill discusses making the video and its inspirationtheknickswall.com
Even the Timberwolves felt trigger-happy tonight. Towns connected from triple on three instances. Last year’s Rookie of the Year only scored 20 points after a career game for him on Wednesday but led a Wolves comeback in the second half and drew fouls on the Knicks, allowing himself chances to score from the charity stripe.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas. Actually, Big Cheese had a pretty unremarkable game Friday, outside of posterizing former ‘Bocker Cole Aldrich (OAKAAK):
That Time O’Quinn Received Applause From The Garden Crowd
So…tonight was actually an impressive display from the much maligned Kyle O’Quinn. But he did in fact play well, despite a few silly personal fouls. Only three Knickerbockers scored 20+ points tonight–Anthony, Derrick Rose, and O’Quinn! Kyle would go on to finish with a double-double, 20 points, 13 rebounds, and a pair of blocks in a “Freaky Friday” style body switch between the bearded forward-center and Yung Kristaps.
Even though Porzingis struggled on Friday night, he still showed signs of positive trends, including being unafraid to shoot the ball after going cold all night. I don’t mean that in a J.R. mentality, shoot-no-matter-what mindset; more so that when he found his spot he still attempted good looks despite the poor shooting performance tonight.
Five years into his NBA career, Kyle O’Quinn has solidified himself as a reliable big man off the bench.theknickswall.com
Regardless, O’Quinn’s sweet night took center stage in Manhattan on Friday. Through smiles, grimaces, and mean-mugs, Kyle was more than pleased to usurp Joakim Noah’s starting center role and caused plenty of havoc down low throughout the evening–including a crucial tandem block on KAT with the help of his friend Porzingis. O’Quinn was 9-for-11 from the field, although he started the game converting his first seven, or eight attempts, I believe.
Side note: Friday exhibited a GREAT World’s Most Famous Arena audience. They were entertaining and thrilling, cheerful and nervous, and showed the wide range of emotions that fans at home felt while watching their favorite hoops team relinquish a double digit lead in the fourth quarter. MSG crowds have been overall solid this season and that’s a pleasantry to watch. Home court advantage has been nice thus far and the Knicks are now 8–3 at home.
Rose did make some pretty plays when the Knicks needed it most. With the game tied, or New York up slightly, Rose stood out as the guy who made plays. This included sweet moves to the basket, clutch free-throws, and a nice pull-up from the mid-range near base-line. Derrick would finish with 24 points, five rebounds, and five dimes.
Other noteworthy Knicks stat-lines include:
- 29 points, five rebounds, three assists, and five three-pointers made from Carmelo in only 34 minutes. Maybe it’s just me, but that total minutes played seems lower than usual.
- Porzingis finished the game with a measly 11 points, five boards, and three assists on 2-of-12 shooting. He had three crucial blocks though. These games happen, but I trust KP to play through them.
- Justin Holiday in his starting role (in place of Lee) put up 13 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. I’m telling you, Justin can play, and he’s actually quite a talented rebounder for his position!
- Your assist-leader tonight: Brandon Jennings with eight dimes. Jennings played rather erratically on Friday but found times to distribute the ball, Triangle be damned. He also enjoys dribbling behind his back from giggles.
Okay, I think we touched on everything. Nice, the Knicks are back over the hump and past .500! They’re a half-game out of 2nd in the Atlantic Division and a half-game over Detroit for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Keep it up, boys!
— Reid Goldsmith, managing editor